Welcome back to the podcast! So much of what I talk about distills out to looking at our emotions, how we are feeling in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in. If you search the word “emotions,” or “feelings” in my blogs and podcasts you won’t find one or two articles or episodes but over nine pages of different articles. In my AwakenYou program we spend several weeks talking specifically about emotions while every week the underlying work is all about emotions because any action you take is driven by how you feel and every thought you think makes you feel some sort of emotion. In order to move forward from being stuck, you have to look at what emotions are causing you to stay there, whether you know what they are or not, and you will only move so far when you are suppressing, ruminating, and avoiding your emotions. Today let’s talk about why emotions are a big deal.
With that, I’m going to talk mostly about emotional regulation, what it is and why it is so important to understand and practice in your life and in relationship with others, in particular here we look at that relationship with your partner. There are several articles and podcasts where I talk about emotions, including How To Feel Your Emotions, Your Top Three Emotions And How They Reveal The Results In Your Life, and an episode on How To Process Your Emotions, Ep 23, check out each of these resources as a follow-up to what we talk about here today.
I’m going to start off with a definition of emotional regulation from Susan Johnson’s book Attachment Theory In Practice. When I talk about the regulation of emotion it is this: “the ability to ACCESS and attend to a range of emotions, clearly IDENTIFY those emotions, MODIFY them by either reducing or amplifying them in oneself and another, and then USE them to ascertain meaning, as well as to guide our thinking and actions in a way that suits our priorities in different situations.
This definition helps us to clearly see why emotions are so important, first within ourselves because as we learn how to recognize them happening within us we can start to decide if they are working for or against us. If we can see they are working for us, we can amp them up and create more of those positive results and if we see they are not working for us we can work on dampening them so that we can reset our path with our thinking while being able to take different actions that do suit our goals and dreams.
As a coach, I help my clients and you, my listeners, look at how they are feeling because this gives us so much information. We often think that we are at the effect of our emotions but we are not. When we start to actually become aware of how we are feeling and why, that is when we can start looking for other options but until then, we have to do the work of figuring out what we are actually feeling in the moment to moment of our days.
Why emotions are a big deal
Lisa Feldmen Barrett suggests that “those who can put emotions into words, are less likely to use negative self-regulatory strategies such as…” acting out with aggression, harmful actions to self, and excessive buffering activities like over-eating and drinking. She also states that “they also demonstrate less neural reactivity to rejection situations and generally suffer from less-severe anxiety and depression.” That my friends is why understanding and learning how to regulate your emotions is such a big deal.
When we are able to specify our emotions we create awareness, the first step in creating change in our lives, the first step to opening up to receiving the love we want. Once we have this awareness we can start interrupting our current habitual cycle and pause to decide on purpose what we may want to do with this emotion as we also start to understand why it is there. Being able to interrupt our current autopilot cycle and consciously decide what we want to do with the said emotion allows us to start the process of effective problem-solving. This problem solving comes first from awareness, then reappraisal of the circumstance and what may have occurred in a previous situation so you can decide what forward steps best serve the life you are creating for yourself.
When we don’t know how to regulate our emotions, or when we disengage from our emotions, we will often blame others for how we feel and for what we are perceiving as rejection. We will ruminate on the circumstance, catastrophize and blow it out of proportion, make ourselves feel inadequate and unworthy while thinking we are a failure. Poor emotional regulation will often have us feeling overwhelmed when interacting with our partner and overwhelm is an emotion that typically doesn’t have us making decisions that move us forward. Poor emotional regulation also keeps us from knowing how to produce the results we want and will often have us withdrawing without solving the problem that created the emotion, storing it in our subconscious as another unresolved conflict, further embedding that old pattern making it more familiar.
How to start regulating your emotions
It starts with the desire to do so, to change how you are currently dealing with your life and your intimate relationship. It starts with believing that creating this change will help you start feeling better and bring awareness to your life, your circumstances, and your marriage. It requires that you become curious about what emotions you might be feeling in the different moments throughout your day, as I describe in the first article I linked above “How To Feel Your Emotions.” Then there is the podcast episode 23 linked above titled “How To Process Your Emotions” which will help you even if you don’t know what emotion you are feeling by learning how to go into your body and starting to get in touch with what that emotion is doing inside of your body. In that episode, I teach you how to describe what the emotion feels like in your body, that alone will give you an incredible amount of knowledge to create some awareness.
Another practice that I love is to journal about circumstances in your life, describing what happened, what was and is still going on in your mind, and making sure to write about both those that bring positive and negative emotions. It has been proven that simply putting those feelings into words, usually the thoughts that created how you felt or are still feeling, helps you learn how to regulate your emotions through awareness.
Tapping is also a technique that I use with my clients to help them move through the emotions they are feeling, often helping them to lessen the strength of the emotion in their body and helping them discover where this emotion may have originally manifested itself.
Meditation is a technique that helps you get out of your thoughts and into the present moment which helps alleviate ruminating thoughts and get a clearer perspective on the circumstance allowing you to better problem solve. When you are able to get out of your thinking mind, the mind that is using logic to desperately figure out the solution you can let go of old thinking and open up to new possibilities by allowing your creative mind to engage and offer new solutions that you might never have come up with from a logical perspective.
In AwakenYou we utilize all of the above techniques along with several others based solely on what is happening for my client and how I think the different practices might complement and help the client to get a different perspective in the circumstance they are navigating. All of this work gives them different angles and tools to chip away at stubborn habitual thinking that keeps you from being able to regulate emotion and move on with problem-solving.
If you’d like to experience any of the modalities that I shared today please book a free session where I will take you through one of the techniques to help bring you some emotional space and clarity.
I am a life coach who works with individuals to break down relationship barriers by awakening their true selves. My process isn’t about changing your partner, it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage. If you’re ready to take your life and your love relationship to the next level then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s decide together if this is your next step to creating the life you’ve been dreaming of.